Painting with Mother Nature
Scott and Peggy Rogers are surrounded by blossoms at the Lavender House in Bear River City, an outdoor reception business the two started just three years ago.
Peggy Rogers never considered herself an artist. There are no canvases splashed with colors that bear her signature, no watercolor landscapes that grace her walls.
But Peggy, owner of The Lavender House in Bear River City, has an artistic flair for taking Mother Nature’s palette of color and turning her garden into a work of art. Her talent has earned her outdoor reception business the Leader’s Green Arrow Business Award.
The Rogers are no strangers to the Green Arrow. Several years ago, she and husband Scott ran Peg’s Perennials on Hwy. 38, and received the award.
But three years ago the Rogers decided to “downsize.” So they sold the business, built a new home on a half-acre lot and Peggy Rogers began doing what she does best – planting. “I wanted a huge garden in a little tiny spot,” she said, although her definition of ‘tiny’ could be debated.
The two-story house sits a distance from the road, bordered by roses bushes, while the walk is lined with lavender – hence the business’ name. Following the walk to the south side of the house and entering through a wooden and gated fence puts one smack in the middle of a plethora of flowering plants in all sizes and shapes, bursting with color, and welcoming the eye to wander from one focal point to another. This is what Peggy calls her Japanese garden, complete with a lily pond, a birdbath and a gazebo covering a small dining area. Stone walkways meander through the lush vegetation and invite guests to stroll among the display. The garden is one of five the Rogers have planted.
Behind the peaceful first enclosure is a huge vegetable garden overflowing with everything from tomatoes to artichokes. Next to it is an herb garden, followed by a vibrant rose garden and a berry patch, with blackberries the size of a man’s thumb. In the pasture behind all this is an orchard producing everything from peaches to almonds. Peggy estimates that over 800 varieties of plants grace this ‘trimmed down’ plot of ground.
The Rogers didn’t do all the gardening with plans to start a business – far from it. Peggy said it just happened. An outdoor wedding last summer for one of their daughters in the Japanese garden drew so many compliments from friends and relatives that Peggy said she began toying with the idea of making it a business.
“I like to keep busy,” she said, “so I knew I needed a job. But I also needed some freedom.” She said she could have gone to work in a nursery but with 40 years of professional plant growing experience in her pocket, she felt it would be a waste of her skills. Turning the backyard area into an outdoor reception area just seemed like a natural evolution.
A few changes had to be made. The huge strawberry patch was transplanted to make way for a grassy area large enough to seat about 100 guests, either for viewing the wedding, dining at an after-the-ceremony luncheon or for serving well-wishers during the reception. Peggy has thought of everything. Scott is in charge of a huge 50-ft canvas awning that can be put in place, either as shade or protection from the weather. A screened porch is close by for those who prefer indoor to outdoor, and a sunroom offers a place to relax. Inside the house is a beautiful old-fashion bride’s room. The garage houses an entire second kitchen and part of the driveway has been turned into a dance floor.
Peggy said she loves color and likes to collect seeds everywhere she goes to add to the already vivid scenery. She has wandered around Thanksgiving Point with a paper cut looking for “the unusual.” She has brought home seeds from Korea and planted them among her blooms.
Her year starts in March. That is when she begins moving everything. A host of perennials are the mainstay in her yard, but a few annuals go in each year by seed. That is done about the end of March or the first of April and she makes sure she places them by height and seasonal maturity, so that she has blooms continually. Peggy said seeds know when the ground is right to germinate so putting them in the ground in a little snow is not an issue with her. April is also the time she spreads mulch around to give her growing plants a little extra boost and to smother the weeds.
By May her garden has everything in place and there is little maintenance. When the weather turns colder, about October, she starts trimming things back and collecting the seeds she will be using the next year. Then she covers her rose bushes with leaves to avoid winter kill.
One look at the results of her gardening plan and her familiarity with plant life is obvious. Peggy has taken a blank canvas – her yard – and turned it into a masterpiece, with Mother Nature adding the finishing touches.